Lockdown Unlocked – A blog from a social distance by Thomas Willshire #12 Easing

One of the many crushing doubts I had about starting this blog was the timing. If I was going to write some pieces peering through the lens of lockdown I should have started the bloody thing at the end of March. Back then fulsome and oppressive quarantine measures were the order of the day. I could have written of isolation and cabin fever and given the whole thing a dystopian feel. Instead I only managed to motivate myself towards the end of May by which point we could all venture out as much as we wished and trips to the supermarket didn’t have to be essential. Let’s face it, I began writing this blog just at the point my clever Read More

Lockdown Unlocked – A blog from a social distance by Thomas Willshire #11 Filming

Every now and then (but nowhere near as often as I’d like) an acting job falls out of the sky. That said I certainly didn’t expect the heavens to provide during lockdown. I’d written off the opportunity for acting work until next year to be brutally honest. However, with the government’s blessing film production can resume and on Wednesday Polly and I got to do a little screen acting! As with most work Pol and I get, this was offered to us by someone we’ve both worked with before and who we now consider a friend. He’s a student at the National Film & Television School and we provided the solution to a casting problem as we belong to the Read More

Lockdown Unlocked – A blog from a social distance by Thomas Willshire #10 Theatre

My first theatrical experiences took place at St Laurence Junior School during assembly. As the name suggests, St Laurence was a Church School that every morning put on a little production, so to speak. Mr Andrew, the Headmaster, took top billing, of course. He was supported by Mrs Bowden on the piano, who would play a selection of hymns from Jesus’s ‘Holy Banger Playlist’. As memory serves, the one about being cold and naked never failed to bring the house down. There was also the occasional special guest appearance from Father Robert Warren. Now I think back he was an erratic performer at best but back then I was far from a critic. Most of the time he gave us Read More

Lockdown Unlocked – A blog from a social distance by Thomas Willshire #9 Food

Eating one’s feelings is not recommended but what if that feeling is boredom? Is boredom a feeling or a state of mind? Is there a difference? Should I deep fry my boredom or roast it? The answer to that last one, obviously, is deep fry. Always deep fry. In my most recent post I focused on my mental health but the truth is my morale represents an inevitable through-line for this blog so today I thought I’d discuss one of my crutches. Fortunately, it’s not the consumption of food that makes me feel good, it’s the preparation. If I enjoyed eating food as much as I enjoy making it, I’d resemble a dugong by now (fat shaming sea mammals is Read More

Lockdown Unlocked – A blog from a social distance by Thomas Willshire #8 Self-Worth & Friends

When we were first plunged into lockdown my initial concerns were more about the pubs than anything else. As I’ve stated in previous entries, they play host to my most fruitful non-acting work and they’re also one of my favourite places to be. As the nature of lockdown became clear, however, I realised its largest impact would be on my mental health. I must point out that my experiences with poor mental health (before and during lockdown) have been very mild. Everyone who suffers from depression goes through it in their own way and I consider myself very lucky to only live with a splash of it. Since my late twenties I’ve struggled to keep my self-worth rating above ‘waste Read More

Lockdown Unlocked – A blog from a social distance by Thomas Willshire #7 Fergal

In an earlier post I wrote rather unflatteringly about my dog, Fergal. I called him ‘Darling Mr Fuck Paws’ and ‘The Hairy Little Prick’ and so on. Well, this morning when I woke up the first thing I saw was two keen eyes blinking beneath a wagging tail and it occurred to me I ought to set the record straight. The lockdown has been incredibly hard but Fergal, bless him, has played a large part in making it bearable. I didn’t even want a dog. The idea struck me as absurd. Why on earth would Polly and I volunteer to take on ten to fifteen years worth of worry and responsibility?  I didn’t grow up with animals and I suspect Read More

Lockdown Unlocked – A blog from a social distance by Thomas Willshire #6 Quiz

Polly and I cleverly chose to live in London which, having the highest cost of living in the country, has always provided a pressing need for cash. Like many creative types before the lockdown I made money and paid the bills thanks to a variety of jobs. I invigilated exams both at a school and for a computer qualification moderator. A job so breathlessly sexy and interesting I’d better not elaborate, lest, dear reader, you become fidgety and sticky. I did make a little money acting and doing stand up and so on but those meagre amounts rarely accounted to even a small chunk of my annual earnings. For a long time I did ‘promotion’ or ‘promo’ work but found Read More

Lockdown Unlocked – A blog from a social distance by Thomas Willshire #5 Kick-a-ball!

Showing off on a page or stage for a living has been my ambition since the age of seventeen. Prior to that I didn’t have any clear aspirations beyond a vague sense that doing something I enjoyed for a job would be gratifying. I didn’t really enjoy school and the thought of waking up every morning for the rest of my life dreading the day ahead made me miserable. Imagine looking forward to Monday morning. Imagine getting a little excited for the end of a holiday. Naïve stuff, I’m aware but I was young and full of hope and sunshine. If you’d asked me at twelve years old what I liked doing the best, I’d have told you playing football. Read More

Lockdown Unlocked – A blog from a social distance by Thomas Willshire #4 Lucky Tom

I’m a lucky man. Ask anyone. My wife certainly regards me as lucky and not just because I find myself married to her. I’m not talking about luck in the form of privilege either. This time round my inherent white-male-born-in-the-west privilege is merely providing a fluky underscore to the blog. I’m lucky in a general sort of a way. I frequently discover money. I win stuff without the knowledge I was even in a position to do so. I have the knack of stumbling into the right place at the right time. I am the very definition of a jammy bastard. I’ll give you a couple of examples. Firstly, upon finding myself in Manchester one night needing to get to Read More

Lockdown Unlocked – A blog from a social distance by Thomas Willshire #3 Shopping

If listening to my friends and family unpick their misery is as much fun as I find it, I can’t imagine how much fun, dear reader, you’re going to have sampling my blog today! All I do on the phone (or over video chat) at the moment is wait patiently for the other person (or people) to stop talking so I can finally have my go at teasing out the specific lockdown niggle that’s irritating me most that day. “Blah blah blah…I’m missing pubs a lot today…blah blah blah…what about you Tom?”. Yes! My turn! “I think my current fug revolves around the total collapse of theatre and the inevitable cessation of my hopes and dreams. This has been great, Read More